A brace from Port Vale striker Marc Richards took his goal tally for the season to 12 and inflicted a 3-1 defeat on a Burton side who ended the game with 10 men.
Burton's makeshift defence, with on-loan Barnsley player O'Neil Thompson making his debut, was soon opened up as Vale took a seventh-minute lead.
Sean Rigg rolled a cross from the right flank and Richards was totally unmarked as he placed a cool left-footed shot past the advancing Artur Krysiak.
But Vale keeper Chris Martin rushed out of goal to commit an unnecessary foul on Cleveland Taylor and Shaun Harrad smashed in the equaliser from a 16th-minute penalty.
Martin partially atoned five minutes later with a terrific save from Harrad as the previously subdued visitors grew in confidence.
But yet more poor defending by the visitors enabled Rigg to surge clear and steer a comfortable finish beyond the unguarded Krysiak in the 25th minute.
Both sides looked capable of scoring every time they went forward as the shambolic defending continued at both ends of the field.
Harrad was very unfortunate in the first minute of the second half when his spectacular overhead kick thudded against the post with Martin well beaten.
Both sides missed further chances before Richards slotted an 85th-minute penalty after Thompson fouled Vale substitute Craig Davies.
A bad night was compounded for Burton in stoppage time when Krysiak was sent off for a professional foul on Davies.
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